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Auto blogTue, 11 Jun 2013 11:01:00 EST
We've said it before, but bears repeating: Pickup trucks are the financial engines of America's automakers. Good thing, then, that the segment is in rude health - in fact, Automotive News is suggesting that pickup truck sales are arguably healthier than they were pre-recession, even though the segment's volume is still significantly down from where it was before the bottom fell out of the US economy. That's because per-unit profits on full-size trucks are skyrocketing, outpacing the industry's average price increases by more than double since 2005. According to data from Edmunds, the average transaction price of a full-size pickup is now $39,915 - a heady increase over the $31,059 average price in 2005 - a gain of over 8 percent after inflation is factored in.
Just how important are trucks to automakers' bottom lines? Automotive News quotes a Morgan Stanley analyst as saying the Ford F-Series is responsible for 90 percent of the company's 2012 profits, and General Motors isn't far behind, with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins chipping in about two-thirds of the automaker's earnings.
Automotive News points out that Detroit's automakers now have the money to invest in modernizing their full-size truck offerings, in part because they don't have the same overhead and legacy costs that pushed General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy. Certainly, the pickup segment has seen a lot of innovations as of late, including turbocharged V6s, coil-spring rear suspensions and active aero. Those improvements in important areas like fuel economy and ride comfort have given existing pickup buyers new reasons to upgrade. In addition, automakers are piling on the tech and luxury goodies, creating more and more high-content, high-profit models like the Ford F-150 King Ranch, Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn and Chevrolet Silverado High Country (shown).
The record-setting Hennessey-powered camouflage Ford GT we showed you at this time last year headed back to the Texas Mile and managed to bring home yet another record. As you may recollect, last year saw Mark Heidraker's machine sprint to a record 257.7 mph thanks to propulsion from its twin-turbo 5.7-liter V8. The big mill sucks down race gas, and this year the creation pulled off a 267.6-mph run over the weekend. That feat set a new record for the event. Something tells us neither Heidraker nor Hennessey are done squeezing more thrust from this machine.
This particular Ford GT has already gone through a number of permutations. Hennessey started by tweaking the factory supercharger set up before abandoning the blower in favor of two turbos. Since then, the crew has poked and prodded it to coerce as much grunt as possible out of the car. We expect Hennessey will probably come out with a video of the record-setting run shortly, but in the meantime, you can see a couple of videos of the car's runs in Texas below (one of which actually captures the record run). Enjoy.
Ford is recalling 6,308 units of the 2012 and 2013 Focus Electric and 2013 Focus ST that were fitted with HID headlights because a "wiring incompatibility" could keep the front side marker lights from working. A bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the recall should begin in the middle of this month, after which owners can take their cars to dealers to have the wiring assembly repaired free of charge.
You can find more information in the NHTSA bulletin posted below.